Council bosses have been asked what is being done to stop beggars “harassing” motorists at busy junctions and “creating a negative first impression” of Bradford.
The issue of people begging at junctions and traffic lights was raised by Councillor Debbie Davies (Cons, Baildon), who said many people found people asking for cash while stopped at traffic lights “very intimidating.”
Council bosses said numerous agencies, including drugs charities and social services, work with those who are found to be begging, as “enforcement alone will not solve these issues.”
However, Councillors were told that in the past year five beggars have been given Criminal Behaviour Orders banning them from asking people for cash on the street.
There are several junctions in Bradford where people can often be spotted waiting for cars to stop before asking drivers for money.
These include the junction of Leeds Road and Shipley Airedale Road, the Manchester Road and Smiddles Lane Junction and the junction of Leeds Road and Killinghall Road.
Cllr Davies’ question that went before Tuesday’s full Council meeting said: “Could the Leader of the Council confirm whether the Council works with the police and / or any other agencies, to stop beggars harassing people at road junctions, which some people find very intimidating and creates a negative first impression to anyone visiting Bradford?”
The Council replied: “Bradford Council does work closely with the Police in tackling the issues of begging on traffic islands.
“There are a multitude of reasons why this is taking place and as a consequence needs a co-ordinated multi-agency response.
“Enforcement alone will not resolve these issues and as a result a stepped approach is adopted. “Individuals are engaged with by a number of partners including the Police, the Homeless Outreach Partnership, Salvation Army, New Visions, Bridge Project to address the underlying issues as to why they are begging in the first place.
“Each individual is fully informed of partner agencies who can provide support and practical advice to address both their immediate financial and housing needs and any underlying addictions or conditions which have contributed to their situation (e.g. drugs, alcohol, mental health), they are warned regarding behaviour and impact this can have in an attempt to deter.
“If this behaviour continues despite offers of support and warnings, then matters can be dealt with through enforcement either through the criminal justice system or through the issue of a Criminal Behaviour Order from the Council/Police Antisocial Behaviour Team.
“In the last 12 months the ASB team have obtained five Criminal Behaviour Orders for individuals persistently begging across the District.”
Cllr Davies replied to ask whether Public Space Protection Orders – which allow police to tackle behaviour that may be anti-social, but not necessarily illegal, could be used to deal with the issue.
Council Leader said there were already PSPOs in place in many areas of Bradford, and she would look into whether they could be used more effectively to tackle this issue.
Two people have recently been sentenced by Bradford Courts for begging at road junctions.
In May Michael Eggett, (25), of Brookfield Road, was sentenced for breaching a criminal behaviour order that prevented him from begging in stationary traffic. He had been found begging on Shipley Airedale Road in March.
He was ordered to carry out a community order that included rehabilitation activities.
The same month Mehdi Kamalinia (42) of Barkerend Road was sentenced for begging at the junction of Leeds Road and Shipley Airedale Road last December.
It had not been the first time they had been convicted of such an offence.
They were fined £220.
At the same Council meeting Councillor Aneela Ahmed (Lab, City) asked what was being
done to provide support for homeless people over the winter.
Among the services offered is “no second night out.” On this scheme, the response from the Executive said: “Since 2015 the Council has commissioned a short term accommodation service to help people who are sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough in the district.
“The service is run by Humankind and is called Bradford No Second Night Out. NSNO is open 365 days a year and offers a range of services to support rough sleepers.
“Over the past 12 months the service has provided 194 beds for rough sleepers, 150 of these have moved on to suitable alternative accommodation.
“With further funding from the Council, Humankind has opened an emergency crash pad. This accommodation provides 12 emergency beds for rough sleepers.”